AD196: Who’s watching? Voters seen as key in holding elected officials accountable

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Dispatches
2018
196
Thomas Isbell

In addition to the growing number of African states that conduct regular elections and embed democratic principles in their constitutions, evidence comes from survey-based research that most Africans support democratic values and reward governments that adhere to democratic rules (Mattes & Bratton, 2007; Bratton & Mattes, 2001). However, in many countries, citizen demand for democracy is not met by supply of democracy (Mattes & Bratton, 2016) as governments, once elected, fail to respect the norms of democratic governance (Gyimah-Boadi, 2015). Beyond Election Day, democracy requires day-to-day accountability to ensure that those elected to represent the people in fact do their jobs (O'Donnell, 1998; Schedler, 1999; Warren, 2014).

How do ordinary Africans view accountability? Whom do they see as responsible for monitoring those in power? Findings from Afrobarometer surveys in 36 African countries show that most Africans support checks on executive power by lawmakers, the courts, and the news media. But when it comes to holding elected officials accountable, that responsibility is most often assigned to the voters.